NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Welfare Without Time Limits

October 27, 2003

While welfare rolls have continued to decline in many states, New York's public assistance rolls have begun a modest climb in recent months, reversing a seven year trend. Unlike the federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, which was reformed in 1996, New York's state and locally funded Safety Net Assistance has no time limits.

According to the New York Times:

  • As of August, about 41,000 families had moved to Safety Net Assistance after reaching the five-year limit on federal benefits.
  • The city and state each pay half the cost of the program, which provides clients the same amount as federal welfare but for an unlimited amount of time; for the 2004 fiscal year, the city will pay about $60 million.
  • The state Constitution obligates local governments to care for all who are needy without time limits.
  • A third are employed at least part time, yet still earn little enough to qualify for aid.
  • More than 13 percent have lost some of their benefit for not cooperating with city work and training requirements -- almost double the percentage of TANF workers -- and sanctions have been threatened for an additional 10 percent who are appealing.

TANF requires adults to find work and provides job placement assistance. Families who move to Safety Net failed to make the transition to work. One Safety Net recipient, for example, began receiving public assistance in 1981 when she first had children.

Source: Leslie Kaufman, "More Needy Seeking Help From the State," New York Times, October 27, 2003.


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